Thursday, December 21, 2017

(12 Days) An Ode to Wooly

Back before #RPGaDay wiped me out of cool gaming stories, I was experimenting with #12Days, a test to cover stuff I normally didn't talk about, and back then, an experiment to post every day to the blog.

Nowadays, I'm a posting machine, for better or for worse.  If I don't post anything else for December, I'll have 435 posts for the year.  And despite a lack of painting or wargaming this quarter, Iegit pageviews haven't been higher, so somebody somewhere is interested. 

But one thing I haven't tackled in a while is a shoutout to my contemporary gamers who helped shape me to the gamer I am today.

This year, we write an Ode to Wooly.

Back in the early days of high school there were basically four people in the original game in group: Charles, Scott, George, and myself.

Wooly was number five .

I remember first meeting Wooly sophomore on the Easton Indoor Track.  He was a freshman who hung with my other friend Don, as well as his younger brother.  At some point the talk about gaming and D&D came up and he was invited to one of our sessions after a half-day of school.  The idea that I would need to introduce him to the group was allayed when I discovered that not only were he and George friends, but their parents played cards together each week!  Needless to say, growing from four to five players was a piece of cake.

His early D&D games were unimpressive, with his fighter, Ned Overland, catching up to the near-legendary characters remembered only as the Drunken Warrior, Stupid Fighter, and the Busty Mage. 

Then, one afternoon, Charles brought out BattleTech and his true passion for gaming was discovered.  Apparently heavily armed robots were his thing. 
Even with the learning curve of picking up strategy, tactics, and Inner Sphere lore from Charles,  Wooly was an avid learner as we ventured forth past high school, was accumulating a respectable collection of minis and books. 

Soon, games at the Casa de Viscount's Mom's house were moved to the Basement of Wooly.  Most of those pictures aren't on the internet (thank God), but a raucous nerdy mech-abounding time was had. 

As the Magic craze gripped gaming, Wooly stayed an ardent Battletech player, never wavering into collectible card games, save the obvious Battletech one released in the mid-90's.  For him, the Battletech community expanded his player base in directions we rarely went.  His progression with the hobby could no better be demonstrated with the numerous Bogglecon, a bi-annual one-day con usually held in a Legion hall in Wind Gap, PA.  The con normally hosted a large 3-D Battletech board on the small stage normally used for bingo.  Wooly started playing all three sessions each con, and as the years progressed, he assumed the role of gamemaster for some pretty ingenious scenarios far away from the "Battlerama" themes.  Proper city tactic one game, schooling "experts" with light vehicles a second, and introducing SRTs (Short Range Torpedoes) in a game with a giant lake filling up most of the 10' table. 

Wooly was also the primary driver for most of our convention wanderings.  Be it five hour drives to Buffalo, strange cons in Jersey,  trips to Origins in Philly and Columbus, or even a shopping pilgrimage to Crazy Egor's, Wooly's blue jeep was synonymous with gaming fun.

Of course this was all back in the day where 19 and 20-year old dudes from out of state could still snag a hotel room and pay in cash. Apparently it was also a time that no New York convenience stores checked ID, and State Police did not notice an vehicle off-roading in the dark on the campus of the University of Buffalo.   It was also a time where no one checked ID to cross the border into Niagra Falls, Canada... and the Canadian Dollar was so week, we snagged a room for 30$CAN, we paid 40$US, and got 25$US in change. 

Outside of Battletech, our claim to fame was being demonstrators for Global Games.  It was his idea to grab the boxed set during the Dreamscape Comics Christmas sale, and it was him who dialed the phone number on the back of rulebook and initiated a conversation with the designers of the game.  We even took another road trip to venture to Toronto to hang out with them.   That gig even netted him a trip to GenCon when it was still in Milwaukee, and the best review I hold close to my heart.  "GenCon is just too big with way too much stuff" (and that was back in the days for 25,000 attendees.)

Over the years, things evolved.  He was part of the most epic Star Wars campaign (d6), where he played an aspiring Wookie porn star.  Funny, he had a spot in the campaign, my girlfriend at the time was invited in, but I didn't...  Still, being an occasional spectator was worth it. 

When I pondered starting up a D&D campaign while I went back to college, Wooly was one of the three who kicked off the game I'm posting now as Ballad of the Pigeon God*Spoilers* , his character, Kane, took a hiatus or two over the course of the campaign, but he made it to the end. 

After college, he took part in my Hackmaster campaigns, one (The Journey of Mutumbo) bearing his character's name.  With his girlfriend/fiancee/wife, Jenny at his side, we moved out of gaming in Wooly's basement to playing in his attic in his house on the south side of town.  There, we did more RPG, more B'Tech, and even ventured into Call of Cthulhu under the tutelage of the infamous Dr Bob  Heck I was even the Best Man at his wedding (and got a half-keg of Guinness out of the deal. Best wedding present ever!)

Around the same time I decided to wrap up the Hackmaster campaign and move to Wellsboro, Wooly heeded to the desires of his wife and moved to her hometown of Johnstown.  There, his gaming went dormant, as money was funneled into remodeling a house, their Jeep off-roading hobby (not involving the police), and the problems of living in a place like Johnstown. 

There are legends of a huge stash of Battletech, 40k, and Legions of Steel deep within the dungeons of the Casa del Wooly.  Perhaps, one day, we can overwhelm it's master and set up a few games with the old crew, hopefully more than just one more time, for old time's sake.  

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